The Dirt

Make a Wooden Garden Tote

A DIY garden tote makes a great Mother's Day gift

Now here’s a project that’s about my speed: A wooden garden tote you can make with your kids

I don’t have kids, but my spouse says I have the physical strength of a child. And I’m more than a little deficient when it comes to completing projects that require coordination, precision, and physical strength. And that needs to change soon, because there’s a lot I need to get done.


To help put together our garden tote, we asked for help from our sister magazine, Fine Woodworking. We’ll let them take it away from here.


I designed this simple project to introduce my daughter to woodworking, but it is a great one for beginners young and old. You can make this handy garden tote from a single cedar deck board, a dowel, and a few screws from your local home center, and the only tools you need are a drill and any kind of power or hand saw. Fill it with new gloves and tools, and you’ll make a gardener very happy. The nice thing about decking boards is that the corners are already rounded. Ask for 1×6 deck boards, which should actually measure 5-1/2 in. wide and about 3/4 in. thick. Since this blog was originally published on, we updated the design a bit, and you’ll find a plan here for the new-and-improved tote. The main difference is that there are the few simple curves we added. Also, the holes for the handle go only partway through, hiding its ends, though you could drill all the way through and it would still look great. We did some of the work on machines like a bandsaw and drill press, but a hand-held drill and a jigsaw would work just as well. A handsaw can also handle the straight cuts with a coping saw making the curved ones. The sides and bottom are attached with rust-resistant decking screws. Make it easier on yourself by drilling clearance holes in the top board and pilot holes in the board below. Click the box at the top of this page to download the plan. —Asa Christiana,

How to Make a Garden Tote

Lay out the cuts: The original had straight lines and we laid them out with a ruler. For the new design, print out the plan, cut along the curves with a scissors, and then lay the paper right on the wood to mark the cuts.

Cutting parts on the bandsaw

Cut out the parts: A jigsaw or handsaw would work fine, but a bandsaw sure is fun, and it is safe enough that my daughter can use it, as long as I stay just over her shoulder. It is her favorite tool in my shop, and she is very careful to keep her hands away from the blade.


Drilling clearance holes

Drill pilot holes: She wobbled a bit, but Lucy drilled the clearance holes…

Driving screws

Assemble the tote with screws: Drive all the screws. A 12V or smaller drill would have been better than my Milwaukee 14.4, though.



Thanks to Asa and her daughter Lucy for their help with this project!


Here’s a list of wood-related items I want to acquire in the near future:

  • A pergola
  • A new shed
  • Something pretty for storing garbage cans
  • A potting bench
  • A deck
  • A treehouse
  • I’m sure there’s more


I am beginning to realize that in order to have my dream home/landscape, I’m either going to need to win the lottery or become a better DIYer.

What are you making for your garden this year?

View Comments


  1. Svenie 04/28/2009

    Nice post,

    I am making my mother a birdhouse with an area for the birds to relieve themselves one at time.
    Ok its a very small bird bath and Im buying it at the store, but a garden tote would be a great idea as well.

  2. EditorHack 05/12/2009

    I'm sure it is fun to make with your child but that thing is ridiculous! It is entirely unpractical for anyone who is serious about gardening, which is who I thought the audience for your magazine was. Did this idea have something to do with the fact that Taunton also publishes Fine Woodworking magazine?

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